Building Us Better: 4 Innovations in Artificial Limbs

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When accidents happen and people lose limbs, there’s still hope that they can regain function because of prosthetics. Yes, a lot depends on the severity of the missing limb, but the technology is there to help people walk, pick up objects, and do much more. Take a look at these four innovations in artificial limbs and how they give amputees function back to their bodies.

Prosthetics that Resemble Real Body Parts

Iamge via Flickr by MilitaryHealth

Prosthetic hands no longer feature a hook with two fingers, or some other simple configuration. Now, they closely resemble their human counterparts with five fingers and the same mobility or better. Prosthetic feet also resemble human feet and users are able to wear shoes on them. Additionally, some artificial limbs even have skin to make them less of a distraction in public.

The most advanced prosthetics available in 2014 are called, “bionics.” Bionic limbs are developed around the world, but the Advanced Arm Dynamics clinic in Portland, Oregon, is one of the leaders. According to Digital Trends, fewer than 50 people in the United States have bionic hands with advanced i-Limb technology because they are so new. Bionic hands are not just for aesthetics; they are amazing machines that are paving the way in prosthetics.

Prosthetics with Built-in Pressure Sensors

Prosthetics are great because they give function back to amputees. Up until recently, however, these prosthetics did not have the same feel as real body parts. For instance, an amputee with a prosthetic hand had to look at an object to know where it was and pick it up. However, National Geographic reports that the Rehabilitation Institute of Chicago has conquered this barrier by putting pressure sensors in prosthetics for sensory feedback. This helps amputees with prosthetics feel objects without seeing them. Pressure sensors are used in all sorts of prosthetics, not just hands.

Prosthetics with Personality and Style

The main purpose of prosthetics is to restore amputees with the ability to walk or pick up objects. However, designers at the Alternative Limb Project are pushing the boundaries and giving amputees all sorts of other cool abilities, such as tentacle arms and mermaid tails. In the future, it really might be possible to get an extra arm or leg to help you be more efficient at daily tasks. Of course, eyes in the back of your head are still a ways off.

Prosthetics That Are Controlled by the Mind

Amputees have different prosthetic options depending on the type of stump that is left on their limb. If the nerve endings are still receptive, sensors can be attached to control prosthetics through muscle contractions in the stump. Through microchips and sensors, bionic arms and legs are controlled straight by the brain through brain-machine interfaces (BMIs). Home trials are not available yet, but the technology for brain-operated prosthetics is only a few years away.

Technology saves lives and helps people live more normal lives. As technology continues to improve, amputees will experience a broader range of mobility and increased prosthetic options.

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